Disco Through The Deadlines


Got hit up via HARO for ideas on how to keep your work fresh, avoiding burnout and boredom. Ha! Just finished a section of my book on that!

The stale cloud that hangs over the heads of any creative professional is always made worse in a deadline-rich environment, and lets face it – whose creative environment (that creates income) is without the stress of deadlines?!

Check out some of these ideas if you are going through it.

Breaks & Lunches How you spend your breaks and lunches at school or work are crucial. As these might be your only opportunities to steer the ship of your attention during the majority of your waking hours, you are 100% responsible for programing. It seems that most people spend their fifteen minute breaks or lunches checking their phone (yup, still there), which ultimately just powers you up with other peoples ideas and further tightening your tether to what already exists. Every time you turn on the TV or surf your phone, you are deepening your connection to the tap of what already exists. Don’t be a sheep. There are much more interesting ways to spend your downtime and change is good!  Try instead getting your office or educational cohorts involved with you in Slinky Olympics, coloring books, Dance Offs and Karaoke.   Maybe work in some hula hooping, Lego contests or paper airplane races. Set up RC obstacle courses through the loading docks or student lounge. Break out some action figure theater. Fun is good for you, and other people can’t help but get involved.

Touch Sense of touch is the easiest to pull off in an office environment. There are so many things that we don’t touch because we don’t have to. As kids, we touch everything just because we can. Put the side of your face against the concrete wall in the stairwell. Feel the rough, the cold, the crumbly-ness of it. Or if it is painted, trace the slickness of the paint, feeling the imperfections of how it dried in almost imperceptible lumps and rivers. Bang you hand against a railing and listen to the sound it makes as it reverberates though the space.  If you can, get a small balance ball and put it under your desk. While you work, roll it around with your feet or gently bounce it against the desk partition. This is a different experience. This is an alternate way to work. The rebellion you feel will inspire you to keep going with your exploration. Just don’t turn to cosplay quite yet.

Color A change up in color can be difficult in an office environment. Some corporations go so far as to limit the colors of nail polish their employees can wear. Somewhere along the line they started calling it “a more professional look”. Not sure what is professional about strangling the life, individuality and expression out of the people working for you when you hired them for exactly all those qualities. That being said, it is time to begin the (private) revolution. The advantage of color is that it can be done in hidden ways just as easily as big bold statements and both are awesome. Color theory is a truly incredible science. Certain colors promote changing out of bad habits or promoting calm. I have a friend that can actually see colors associated with letters. color is everywhere and available to be harnessed for our greater wellbeing.

Example of color changes that aren’t so office offensive can be underwear, socks, jewelry, hidden tattoos, lining your office drawers with shelf paper, your cell or desktop image, and accent scarf or tie clip, funky money clips or belt buckles. Desk plants with particular pots or flowers can be an other sly way to add some color to your day. The possibilities are endless if you get creative. Follow your spark through the paint swatch section of a hardware store. Really feel through the palates. What gets you inspired? What really draws you in? Sometimes we don’t even know what our favorite color is until we see hundreds we don’t like. Explore your color preferences and then really brainstorm on how to add them into your life as much as possible.

Taste & Smell Taste and smell go pretty much hand in hand and is another great way to change up your routine and give your awesomeness some play time. Do you remember things you loved as a kid when you were at your most creative? Sour balls or rock candy? Cherry popsicles? Ever notice how when you open a bottle of a particular sunscreen it takes you right back to your days at the beach? Or when you open a can of clay, you are transported right back to your forth grade art class. I call these “time-warp triggers”. They open a quick fix to a simpler time, a whiff or taste of the magic in our youth. I invite you to fill your desk or backpack with a few favorites – get rid f the grown up energy drinks and stock up on cream soda. I never said this was a diet plan, I just want to give you that freeway to smiles that your Spark will love you for. Seek out aromatherapy options or essential oils if you aren’t keen on sugaring up. But try it! If there is a highway to hell, this is the hopscotch to heaven.

Our reality is what we make it. I just heard the story of a woman that fought to wear a spaghetti strainer on her head in her DMV photo. She claimed it was religious freedom. The internet went nuts about condemning her for being a whacko, but I totally love the idea. She isn’t hurting anyone, and everyone here forward will get a good laugh when they card her for alcohol. I love it. Spread the nuttiness, share a laugh. Be a little crazy and lose some of your ego in the process. The world can use a little less ego and a few more giggles. What can you do right now to make someone laugh. What can you cultivate inside you to make yourself laugh?

Music You might not be able to openly listen to music at your school or office, but you can use earphones when appropriate and you can set your self up to have a great day by creating your own motivational playlist of silly, fun, happy songs – things that get you going and remind you of the good times – the roll your window and sing out the window times. Songs that pump you up with energy or focus you to go all out on the next hurdle. we all have our favorite music that transports us to our best feeling self. Find it and get it together. Listen to it everyday, every chance you can. Add to it so it doesn’t get boring, but only songs that have the same vibe. I don’t mean make a mixed tape of all your favorite songs, I mean for you to make a mixed tape of all the songs that bring out the best in you. You can do it!

Creating a Creative Workplace Now if you are the boss, you are really going to have fun with this concept! Think of all the great company sports, team builders and meeting topics you can develop. A great way to break people into a new way of doing things and get them more inspired and creative is with contests. Incentive kind of balances out risk in many cases. Ugliest sock contests, most original themed office chair competition, best department crest design or theme song. break room plastic cup sculpture challenge, even bake-offs bring out special talents and insights into employees and create a light-hearted team spirit in the workplace. And of course, leading by example will be you, bringing clay and beach balls to office meetings to wake people up and stir their originality. It doesn’t cost a lot of money to do things differently and new is exactly what you are looking for.

Dressing Yourself. When my toddler daughter dresses herself, the result is pure magic, winter hats and sundresses, prints and plaids and rainbow water shoes… I love it. I love that her decisions are based completely on items that make her happy.Not wether or not they match, are seasonally appropriate or even fit correctly – just sheer joy. And when she walks into school, the reaction is smiles all around- everyone talks about how adorable she looks! Her joy spreads joy, its breathtaking to watch. Why then would I make her wear anything else, and not be happy and not spread joy. Sure, I anticipate MANY wardrobe fights in the future, but the underlying message here is that self expression of ones inner heartfelt happiness is the most important gift you can give to the world and even the smallest things like rainbow water shoes can have an enormous impact on those around you.

Julianne Black has written and illustrated several books,  including “Sleep Sweet” the multi-award winning Augmented Reality picture book.  She is an internationally recognized graphic artist, fine artist and freelance contributor to Story Monsters Ink Magazine. She can be reached at www.julianneblack.com


One Comment Add yours

  1. Bev Shanley says:

    This is the best writing from you yet! Your imagination soars and takes my imagination to better places. I have worn a strainer on my head….a red one….and had my picture taken……I was happy to see that I lived up to one of your ideas to make things more interesting and fun. A sneaky way to add color (in a beige zone) is to polish your toes. lol…..Can picture Madi in one of her amazing outfits. She will be a wiman to reckon with……As always, your blogs brighten my day……
    Live on!

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